Digital presents several easily accessible and cost-efficient opportunities for annuity providers. Annuity providers that can take advantage of these opportunities can make a significant difference in the quality of the services they provide to their contract holders while gaining efficiencies. Today, digital is a given.
As consumers, we have all become accustomed to communicating with retailers, utility providers, financial services providers and more on our smart phones, tablets and laptops. Our expectations for an easy, seamless, productive and positive online experience have been to a large extent shaped by the retail sector. Consumers are also looking for similar online experience from their insurance and annuities providers as they have in other consumer sectors. They’re looking to have a complete digital experience across channels, whether they’re looking to invest in a new annuity or get support on an annuity they already own.
Annuity providers are at a risk of disappointing their customers if these demands are not met.
For instance, an annuity owner might want to check his or her investments or ask questions when it’s convenient, which is often after business hours or on a weekend.
If an annuity provider doesn’t offer 24/7 support from a customer service representative and lacks digital support capabilities, the consumer may not be able to get quick answers to queries.
The good news is digital has become pervasive in the insurance industry. Most carriers are in different stages in their digital transformation journeys. Today, the enabling digital technologies are mature and widely available.
Fintech and insurtech firms are further disrupting this space with the options that are available with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. With these digital technologies, annuities providers don’t need to have live customer representatives available at all times of the day and night to meet after-hours demand. Instead, they can complement their contact center staff and capabilities with AI-enabled chatbots. This allows the consumers to go online anytime and chat with a chatbot.
Behind the scenes, the chatbots and customer service reps both have access to the same data, ensuring consistency of all information shared with the contract holder. While the chatbots will get smarter over time with machine learning, they are not likely to replace people in the foreseeable future.
However, they can significantly complement the gaps we have today in terms of value added services to the customer.
By adding straight-through processing, annuities providers could potentially process requests for a withdrawal following a conversation with a chatbot, all without the need for additional requests.